Coming up with a winning headline is harder than you might think. After all, those limited numbers of words need to achieve a hell of a lot – grabbing attention, summing up the accompanying content, and compelling people to read on.
If you struggle with creating headlines, here are a few tips to help you.
Creating a Great Headline – Step-by-Step Guide
- Think about what you want to say. Before you start writing, consider your overall message. For example, if it’s a headline for an article about your latest sale, you might want to focus on how much of a discount you’re offering, or the fact that it’s only running for 24 hours. Ascertain which aspects must feature in the headline, and which are more expendable.
- Look at it like a customer. Rather than thinking about what you want to say, ask yourself what your customer wants to read. What gets them excited? What piques their curiosity and makes them want to read more? If you’re not sure, browse some sites and identify which headlines pull you in, and why. This will really help you to understand what sort of language to use when creating your own.
- Understand ‘trigger’ words. It’s a good idea to have some knowledge about language that ‘triggers’ a reaction. For example, ‘sale’ tends to be a word that inspires people to read on, as they suspect there might be a bargain to be had!
- Write it long, then cut it back. Don’t worry if the headline runs a little long on your first attempt – the main thing is that it encapsulates what you want to say. Once you’ve got the key message on paper, then it’s time to start chopping out unnecessary words. There’s no hard and fast rule, but for the purposes of appearing ‘well’ on Google, aim for 55-60 characters.
- Ask for opinions. If you’re not sure whether your headline works or not, ask colleagues and friends to give you their opinions. The sort of feedback you want to hear is that the headline is enticing, interesting, and makes them want to learn more.
A great headline should be:
- Short and snappy – When browsing online, people tend to be impatient readers. They want to be given a solid reason why they should read on, and they want it quickly.
- Crystal-clear – Unless you’re trying to be deliberately ambiguous (which can sometimes work), make it clear what the article is about. People don’t like being confused.
- Engaging and enticing – If it’s a dull headline, people will presume it accompanies an equally boring article. Your headline doesn’t need to be ‘all-singing, all-dancing’, but it should have a strong enough hook to get people reading.
Help with Headlines